The Sherlock Holmes Smoking Companion
by Mark Irwin
Cunning Crime Books (Dec 13, 2011)
Kindle Edition, $ 2.99
Some of you will remember and revere the kind, wise, and incredibly prolific Tom Dunn, founder and philanthropist-publisher of The Pipe Smoker’s Ephemeris. As a pin-holding member of T.U.C.O.P.S., The Universal Coterie of Pipe Smokers, which was Tom’s name for those of us united around TPSE, I can tell you with just a slight old-man’s cackle that yes, “those were the days”—those were the days, that is, when most everything we knew about the pipe-smoking community all around the world came to us through his one unique and unrepeatable newsletter, issued just whenever he got enough copy to print and had time to get around to it.
One of the many great legacies of Mr. Dunn was putting us in touch not only with each other, but with books, monographs, essays, and whatever else that was print-related to the hobby, in the present case, Kelvin I. Jones’s 1982 two hundred copy limited edition chapbook, Thank You Watson – the Matches! I was about two years into Pipeman’s Quarterly, a tiny magazine published by myself and several other grad-school friends, all of us Sherlockians and well-versed in Doyle’s canon. So when Tom mentioned Kelvin Jone’s chapbook, of course we had to have it, and in fact reprinted (with Kelvin’s permission) a portion of it in our 13th issue (Spring 1983).
So what’s the hub-bub, you ask? Simply that this priceless piece of research is again available to the pipe-smoking public in e-book form asThe Sherlock Holmes Smoking Companion, through Amazon. Jones’ monograph, which was the model for my own Pipe-Smoking in Middle Earth, is in two parts: a monograph on pipes, tobaccos and smoking in the Canon, followed by an exhaustive concordance of the 132 quotations concerning pipe and tobacco contained in the 56 stories and 4 novels. This is a staggering amount of work when you think about it. And now that it’s available as an e-book, the concordance can be key-word searched, making it oh-so-easy to refute all those wild claims one reads on the internet about “Holmes smoked this” or “Holmes only used a clay pipe, he never used a briar” or “Watson always smoked such-and-such.”
But Jones’ introductory essay is equally a cause for celebration, as he takes a critical, scholarly look at Holmes’ use of tobacco (“The Habit”), the vehicles he used to consume it (“The Apparatus”), what he wrote about it (“The Monograph”), as well as the relationship of Holmes’ use of nicotine to his use of other drugs (“A Note on Nicotine”).
This is a work I have returned to again and again over the past thirty years, and I can’t recommend it enough to those with any interest in Holmes and his pipes. It will be the best $2.99 you have spent in a long while.